If You Need More Darned Clutter on Your Site ...
Amazon's recommendations, for instance, are tested, and tested, and tested again after that. We're talking about a company that's investing so heavily in research that it reports almost no profits annually, despite its size.
Now, you may not take it to that level. You can count the number of retailers that do that using your fingers. However, if you suspect you're adding clutter, you need to step up your testing game.
Key takeaway: If you're adding elements on your pages outside of limited navigation elements, relevant images, short descriptions and calls to action, you need to either run split tests or multivariate tests to make sure you're adding value.
Clutter is Expensive
All e-commerce sites need good on-site search and testing strategies. This is true even if your site is relatively small, and even if you decide to avoid clutter like it's the plague.
However, some sites need it more than others. Having clutter on your site is expensive.
When you have more, you need to run more tests that solve for the added noise, more tagging for the better search experience. It's usually cheaper to get the navigation and page elements right than it is to beef up your on-site search to the degree that you need when your pages are a mess.
So when it's possible to clean up, it's best to clean up. When it's not possible, like when your CMO tells you that he or she really needs those elements to be there, you need to be sure you're compensating for the user experience hit elsewhere. Testing and on-site search are great places to start.
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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